Olympic Luge Athlete Helps Students Stay On The Right Track in Syracuse

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Syracuse/Oswego, N.Y., -- Two-time Olympic USA Luge Team member Erin Warren will encourage Syracuse and Oswego youngsters to "Win At School" when she visits Grant Middle School and Oswego Middle School on March 21st for the Bell Atlantic Win At School Program.

Bell Atlantic, the founding sponsor of USA Luge, has been bringing the Win At School program to students since 1993. For the eighth year in a row, Erin Warren and other USA Luge athletes will visit 30 middle and junior high schools from Maine to Washington, D.C., reaching thousands of students.

Warren, a member of the 1994 and 1998 Olympic USA Luge Teams, will meet with seventh and eighth-grade students to discuss the benefits of hard work, dedication and setting goals. She will also demonstrate luge equipment, show an action-packed luge video and highlight the USA Luge Team's recent achievements -- including its first Olympic medal performances, the 1999 World Championship and the World Cup competition.

"I use my own experiences to let students know how the choices they make today help shape their futures," said Warren. "Being the best -- in sports, in school or in life -- takes more than natural ability. It demands commitment and the willingness to accept challenges and sacrifices others might avoid."

Warren, 28, of Somerville, Mass., has been involved with the Bell Atlantic Win At School program since its inception in 1993. In 1998, she finished sixth at the Winter Olympic Games -- tops among U.S. women in Nagano -- and was named the USA Luge Female Athlete of the Year by team staff and athletes. During the 1998-99 season, she led the U.S. women's luge team in World Cup competition. She retired in 1999 as one of the most successful American "sliders" of all time.

"Over the past eight years, we've been able to help teach tens of thousands of students some of life's most important lessons," said Pat Hennebry, Bell Atlantic's director of corporate sponsorships. "We believe the USA Luge athletes exemplify the values that Win At School stands for and are thrilled to join them on this winning team."

The Bell Atlantic Win At School program has two additional components to reinforce the assembly messages. Bell Atlantic, USA Luge's founding sponsor, distributes a Win At School resource guide to educators with suggested activities to enhance student awareness, develop problem-solving skills and promote critical thinking.

The program also includes a student essay contest. Students will be asked to develop a one-page essay on the following topic:

Think about a decision you've made in your life and how that decision might be the first step to your "Olympic opportunity" (it does not have to be sports oriented). Please describe the decision, where you imagine it might lead, and what great accomplishment may come of it in the future. Please describe three things that you think you will need along the way in order to succeed (e.g. family/teacher support).

Personal computers and printers will be awarded to 10 winners, and 10 runners-up will receive $200 savings bonds from Bell Atlantic.

Bell Atlantic's support has been a linchpin in the U.S. National Luge Team's rise from non-contender to world-class competitor since the company became a founding sponsor in 1985. In 1998, Team USA made history when the doubles teams of Chris Thorpe and Gordy Sheer, and Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin, captured the silver and bronze medals, respectively -- the country's first Olympic medals in luge.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With nearly 44 million telephone access lines and 12 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

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